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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Ind. Courts - More on: Bail reform rule announced, effective immediately in certain counties [Updated]

Supplementing this ILB post from this morning, WANE is now reporting, under the heading "Indiana high court orders most arrestees released without bail":

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) An Indiana Supreme Court-led reform of the state’s bail system has called for suspects placed under arrest in a handful of counties, Allen included, to be released without bail.

The state’s high court said Wednesday that in an effort to enhance public safety and “protect the presumption of innocence,” suspects who do not pose a public safety risk or flight risk must be released after they are charged without bail. The rule was made effective immediately in Allen, Bartholomew, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jefferson, Monroe, St. Joseph, Starke, and Tipton counties. It will be expanded to all courts January 1, 2018.

Evidence-based risk-assessment tools will be used to release suspects, the court said.

The change comes as the state Supreme Court and a coalition of partners, including defense attorneys, probation officers, lawmakers, and trial court judges, overhauled the state’s bail system.

Indiana Public Defender Council Executive Director Larry Landis said the change is a necessary one.

“The current system confines people pretrial if they cannot afford to post bail even if they are neither a flight risk nor a public safety threat,” said Landis. “The new rule will reduce unnecessary, unjust, and expensive pretrial confinement without jeopardizing public safety.”

[Updated at 5:15 PM] Here is Leigh DeNoon's story at WFYI:
Indiana's jails are overcrowded and many defendants are too poor to post bail. Indiana's Supreme Court has adopted a new rule to help remedy the situation.

Seventy percent of those in jail are simply awaiting trail, according to Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defenders Council.

“They’ve been charged. They are only there for one reason and that’s because they cannot afford to buy their way out,” Landis said.

Murder has never been a bailable offense – but defendants facing every other serious charge could bail out. “It’s not because anybody’s made a judgment about we need to confine you because you’re a risk of some sort. We just do arbitrary amounts set for bail based on the charge,” he said.

Landis says nine pilot counties volunteered. Allen, Bartholomew, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jefferson, Monroe, St. Joseph, Starke and Tipton will use evidence-based risk assessments for pre-trial release and create a monitoring system to make sure defendants show up for court.

“It asks a series of questions and then based on those questions, they make an assessment of risk of flight, risk of danger to the community," Landis said.

The Supreme Court says the reforms are based on recommendations from defense counsel, probation officers, lawmakers, and trial court judges. The pre-trial release program will go statewide in January of 2018.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 7, 2016 02:07 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts